September 16/17

Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations For Today
Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 11/14-23/:”Now he was casting out a demon that was mute; when the demon had gone out, the one who had been mute spoke, and the crowds were amazed. But some of them said, ‘He casts out demons by Beelzebul, the ruler of the demons.’ Others, to test him, kept demanding from him a sign from heaven. But he knew what they were thinking and said to them, ‘Every kingdom divided against itself becomes a desert, and house falls on house. If Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? for you say that I cast out the demons by Beelzebul. Now if I cast out the demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your exorcists cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out the demons, then the kingdom of God has come to you. When a strong man, fully armed, guards his castle, his property is safe. But when one stronger than he attacks him and overpowers him, he takes away his armour in which he trusted and divides his plunder. Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.”

Many of them therefore believed, including not a few Greek women and men of high standing
Acts of the Apostles 17/1-12/:”After Paul and Silas had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. And Paul went in, as was his custom, and on three sabbath days argued with them from the scriptures, explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Messiah to suffer and to rise from the dead, and saying, ‘This is the Messiah, Jesus whom I am proclaiming to you.’ Some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a great many of the devout Greeks and not a few of the leading women.But the Jews became jealous, and with the help of some ruffians in the market-places they formed a mob and set the city in an uproar. While they were searching for Paul and Silas to bring them out to the assembly, they attacked Jason’s house. When they could not find them, they dragged Jason and some believers before the city authorities, shouting, ‘These people who have been turning the world upside down have come here also, and Jason has entertained them as guests. They are all acting contrary to the decrees of the emperor, saying that there is another king named Jesus.’ The people and the city officials were disturbed when they heard this, and after they had taken bail from Jason and the others, they let them go. That very night the believers sent Paul and Silas off to Beroea; and when they arrived, they went to the Jewish synagogue. These Jews were more receptive than those in Thessalonica, for they welcomed the message very eagerly and examined the scriptures every day to see whether these things were so. Many of them therefore believed, including not a few Greek women and men of high standing.”

Question: "What is a Christian worldview?"
Answer: A “worldview” refers to a comprehensive conception of the world from a specific standpoint. A “Christian worldview,” then, is a comprehensive conception of the world from a Christian standpoint. An individual’s worldview is his “big picture,” a harmony of all his beliefs about the world. It is his way of understanding reality. One’s worldview is the basis for making daily decisions and is therefore extremely important. An apple sitting on a table is seen by several people. A botanist looking at the apple classifies it. An artist sees a still-life and draws it. A grocer sees an asset and inventories it. A child sees lunch and eats it. How we look at any situation is influenced by how we look at the world at large. Every worldview, Christian and non-Christian, deals with at least these three questions:
1) Where did we come from? (and why are we here?)
2) What is wrong with the world?
3) How can we fix it?
A prevalent worldview today is naturalism, which answers the three questions like this: 1) We are the product of random acts of nature with no real purpose. 2) We do not respect nature as we should. 3) We can save the world through ecology and conservation. A naturalistic worldview generates many related philosophies such as moral relativism, existentialism, pragmatism, and utopianism.
A Christian worldview, on the other hand, answers the three questions biblically: 1) We are God’s creation, designed to govern the world and fellowship with Him (Genesis 1:27-28; 2:15). 2) We sinned against God and subjected the whole world to a curse (Genesis 3). 3) God Himself has redeemed the world through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ (Genesis 3:15; Luke 19:10), and will one day restore creation to its former perfect state (Isaiah 65:17-25). A Christian worldview leads us to believe in moral absolutes, miracles, human dignity, and the possibility of redemption.
It is important to remember that a worldview is comprehensive. It affects every area of life, from money to morality, from politics to art. True Christianity is more than a set of ideas to use at church. Christianity as taught in the Bible is itself a worldview. The Bible never distinguishes between a “religious” and a “secular” life; the Christian life is the only life there is. Jesus proclaimed Himself “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6) and, in doing so, became our worldview.
Recommended Resource: Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview by William Lane Craig & J.P. Moreland

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on September 15-16/17
The Thought Police Strike Again/Giulio Meotti/Gatestone Institute/September 15/17
Norway's Bewildering Election/Bruce Bawer/Gatestone Institute/September 15/17
A Master's Degree in Whitewashing Islam/The University of Oslo Rewards a Promising Apologist/Bruce Bawer/Gatestone Institute/September 15/17
Iran, US align against Iraqi Kurdistan /Fazel Hawramy/Al Monitor/September 14, 2017
Congress fuels Christian rivalries with bid to arm Iraqi militias/Bryant Harris/Al Monitor/September 14/17
Intelligence cell in Saudi Arabia/Salman al-Dosary/Al Arabiya/September 15/17
Abdel Malek threatens us with ‘fresh’ missiles/Mashari Althaydi/Al Arabiya/September 15/17
Is al-Qaeda looking to come back with Hamza bin Laden at helm/Huda al-Husseini/Al Arabiya/September 15/17

Titles For Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on September 15-16/17
Muslim World League to hold conference for cul ural communication in US
Aoun, Kaag meet ahead of UN General Assembly
Aoun to Deliver Speech at UN General Assembly
Ibrahim: What Was Built With Blood, National Unity Won't Be Banished By Sectarianism
Decree Appointing Members of Authority Overseeing Elections Issued Constitutional Council Postpones Meetingon Tax
French Embassy Warns of 'Security Risk in Next 48 Hours'

General Security confirms all terrorists left to Syria by land
Hariri chairs meeting by election law committee

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on September 15-16/17
Passengers Badly Burned in London Underground Train 'Incident'
Trump Blasts 'Loser Terrorists' behind London Train Attack
China 'Opposes' N.Korea Missile Launch, Urges Restraint
North Korea Fires Missile over Japan
Russia, Iran, Turkey to Police Syria Idlib Safe Zone
Two Hamas Militants Die in Gaza Tunnel Collapse
Iraq Attack Death Toll Rises to 84
Possible US Citizen Fighting with Islamic State in US Hands
Diplomats: US, Iran set for first meeting on nuclear deal at UN
Sheikh Tamim: Qatar ready to sit at negotiating table
Muslim World League to hold conference for cultural communication in US
Arab federation rejects Qatar's claims about the effects of the boycott
At least 33 dead, 23 missing in Nigeria boat capsize: Emergency services
Qatari emir meets Merkel, Macron in 1st trip since crisis
Qatar Foreign Ministry warns Qatari citizens against travel to Egypt

Latest Lebanese Related News published on September 15-16/17
Aoun, Kaag meet ahead of UN General Assembly
The Daily Star/September 15/17/BEIRUT: President Michel Aoun met Friday with United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon Sigrid Kaag, a statement from the presidency's office said. Aoun will travel to New York on Sunday for the Sept. 19 general debate at the U.N. General Assembly. He will be accompanied by Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil and Minister of State for Presidency Affairs Pierre Raffoul, in addition to a media pool and an administrative delegation. “The meeting took place prior to President Aoun’s participation at the United Nations General Assembly in New York and his meeting with U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres,” a statement from Kaag’s office read. “Aoun and Kaag discussed the implementation of U.N. resolutions, particularly resolutions 1701 and 2373.”The cited resolutions were intended respectively to end hostilities in the 2006 Lebanon-Hezbollah conflict, and to extend the mandate of UNIFIL. Kaag also reiterated the international community’s “commitment to safeguarding Lebanon’s security, sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Aoun to Deliver Speech at UN General Assembly
Naharnet/September 15/17/President Michel Aoun will deliver a speech to the United Nations General Assembly on September 21 in New York highlighting the internal developments in Lebanon since the presidential elections last October, al-Mustaqbal daily reported on Friday.The Assembly's annual session will open at the level of Heads of State on 19 June. It will be an opportunity for international, Arab and regional meetings to discuss the topics that are at the forefront of global concern and international priority issues. Quoting diplomatic sources, the daily said: “Lebanon's speech will highlight the internal developments in the country after the presidential polls in October, the formation of the government, the stipulation of a new parliamentary electoral law, the security forces' role in combating terrorism and the necessity of supporting Lebanon in completing its liberation from the Israeli occupation.”“Lebanon will also request to become a center for the dialogue of civilizations and religions. It will inform the international community that it is working on several projects in the field of economic development to be submitted to donor countries,” they added. As for the return of displaced Syrians, “Lebanon will seek support for its position on the safe return of Syrian refugees and the need to support it after it has exceeded its ability to shoulder the economic, humanitarian, political and security burdens.”

Ibrahim: What Was Built With Blood, National Unity Won't Be Banished By Sectarianism

Naharnet/September 15/17/General Security Chief Major General Abbas Ibrahim hailed the “sacrifices” of Lebanese towns of Arsal, Baablbek and al-Qaa that have paved way for “building a strong State,” the National News Agency reported on Friday. “Achieved victory and the liberation of the beloved Arsal, Baalbek and al-Qaa were two of the major sacrifice stations on the road to building a strong State of Lebanon,” NNA quoted Ibrahim as saying. His remarks came during a ceremony organized under his patronage by the Municipality of Kawthar al-Sayyad honoring the students of the town.Ibrahim assured that “Lebanon is no longer a playground for adventure lovers. What we have built with blood, exertion and national unity will not be dispelled by sectarian traders and electoral seasons. Living in peace and stability is a human right. It is the duty of the political forces to shoulder this responsibility.”

Decree Appointing Members of Authority Overseeing Elections Issued
Naharnet/September 15/17/A decree was issued on Friday to form the supervisory body that will oversee the 2018 parliamentary elections following its formation during a Cabinet meeting on Thursday, the National News Agency reported. Decree number 1385 bore the signatures of President Michel Aoun, Prime Minister Saad Hariri, Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil and Minister of Interior Nouhad al-Mashnouq, said NNA. The 11-member Commission will be chaired by Nadim Abdul Malek and comprised of Nouhad Jabr, Aouni Ramadan, Philippe Abi Akl, Mouwaffaq al-Yafi, Atallah Ghasham, George Mourani, Carine Geagea, Silvana al-Laqqis, Andre Sader and Arda Ekmekji, it added. The Cabinet had on Thursday appointed members of the Electoral Supervisory Commission that will oversee the 2018 polls.

Constitutional Council Postpones Meeting on Tax Law
Naharnet/September 15/17/A Constitutional Council meeting set to study an appeal of the new tax law that was approved to fund a new wage scale for civil servants and the armed forces was postponed until Monday, al-Joumhouria daily reported on Friday. The meeting was scheduled on Friday but due to travel reasons compelling its head Issam Sleiman to be abroad, it was postponed, added the daily. “Securing the quorum was not easy because of the positions of three of its members,” said the daily, adding that “some of the council's members have turned off their mobiles and are out of touch.”
Late in August, the Constitutional Council ordered a suspension of the implementation of the tax law that was approved to fund the salary scale for civil servants and the armed forces, a day after ten MPs led by Kataeb Party chief Sami Genayel filed an appeal against it. The suspension is aimed at studying the appeal in form and content. The Council, Lebanon's highest constitutional court, also decided to hold a September 15 session to “discuss the appeal” and “an open-ended session on September 18 to issue a ruling should the appeal be accepted.” The new taxes involve hiking the VAT tax from 10% to 11%, fines on seaside violations, and taxes on cement, administrative transactions, sea imports, lottery prizes, tobacco, alcohol, travel tickets, financial firms and banks. Authorities have argued that the new taxes are necessary to fund the new wage scale but opponents of such a move have called for finding new revenues through putting an end to corruption and the waste of public money.

French Embassy Warns of 'Security Risk in Next 48 Hours'
Naharnet/September 15/17/The French Embassy in Beirut on Friday warned its citizens of a "heightened security risk" in the next 48 hours. "Due to a high risk of attacks on public places, special vigilance must be observed within the next 48 hours," the Embassy said. The warning follows a security message for U.S. citizens in Lebanon in which the U.S. Embassy said that it has barred the movement of U.S. government staff to the Casino Du Liban in Jounieh due to “ongoing threats.” “Due to ongoing threats to locations such as the Casino Du Liban in Jounieh, Lebanon, the U.S. Embassy in Beirut has barred any movement of U.S. government staff to that Casino,” said the message which was published on the Embassy's website. “As always, the U.S. Embassy will continue to evaluate the movements of its personnel, and encourages all U.S. citizens to be aware of their immediate surroundings at all times and take appropriate measures to ensure their safety and security,” it added. “Terrorist incidents may occur with little or no warning. In the event of a security incident, avoid the area and monitor the media for the latest developments,” the Embassy cautioned.The warnings prompted Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq to issue a reassuring statement. "The warnings of the Western embassies are based on information from a foreign intelligence agency. Lebanese security agencies are following up on these warnungs to verify correctness and accuracy," Mashnouq said in a statement. "Therefore there is no need for panic or for blowing the reports out of proportion," he added. Casino Du Liban chairman Roland Khoury meanwhile reassured that the U.S. Embassy's move is a “routine measure that is not exclusively related to Casino Du Liban.” In remarks to MTV, Khoury noted that the Casino is guarded by “an army intelligence post, an Internal Security Forces post, an army checkpoint at its entrance, in addition to private security guards.”Khoury also revealed that the Casino's administration has taken a decision to bar the entry of cars into the Casino's premises, reassuring that “the customers' safety and well-being are guaranteed.”

Hariri chairs meeting by election law committee
Fri 15 Sep 2017/NNA - Prime Minister, Saad Hariri, chaired at 3:30 pm on Friday a meeting by the ministerial committee tasked to discuss the implementation of the new electoral law in presence of Ministers Nouhad Mashnouk, Gebran Bassil, Ali Hassan Khalil, Talal Arslan, Ayman Chokeir, Pierre Abi Assi, Mohammad Fneish, Ali Kanso, and Council of Ministers Secretary General, Fouad Fleifel.

General Security confirms all terrorists left to Syria by land
Fri 15 Sep 2017/NNA - The General Security said in a statement on Friday that all the terrorists who left Lebanon to Syria did so by land, and that none of them had taken a plane through Rafik Hariri international airport in Beirut. The General Security denied information cited in an article published this morning in a certain daily and signed by a renowned political analyst. The journalist says in his article that the wounded of the two terrorist organizations Al-Nusra and Ahel al-Sham, and most probably Abu Malek al-Talli, had left Lebanon to Turkey through the BIA."The General Security's General Directorate categorically denies this information and confirms that all terrorists, including Abu Malek al-Talli, had traveled to Syria by land. None of them left Lebanon through Beirut airport," the statement by the General Security said.

Qatar Foreign Ministry warns Qatari citizens against travel to Egypt
Fri 15 Sep 2017/NNA - The Qatari Department of Consular Affairs at the Foreign Ministry has warned Qatari citizens against travelling to the Arab Republic of Egypt. In a statement today, the Department explained that this warning is because of the security measures imposed by the Egyptian authorities against the Qataris when entering Egypt.--Qatar Foreign Ministry

Qatari emir meets Merkel, Macron in 1st trip since crisis
Fri 15 Sep 2017/NNA - Qatar's ruling emir met German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday on his first trip abroad since a diplomatic crisis erupted between the tiny Gulf nation and its neighbors, and the German leader voiced "great concern" that no end to the conflict is in sight. Merkel, addressing reporters alongside the emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, said she hoped dialogue could lead to "fair compromises." "It's cause for great concern that after 100 days a solution to this conflict is still not in sight," she said. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates cut ties with Qatar in June over its close relations with Iran and its alleged support for extremists. Qatar denies supporting extremism, saying the crisis is politically motivated. In Berlin, the emir reiterated that his country is open to negotiations with its neighbors, saying through a translator that "Qatar is prepared to take a seat at the table to solve this problem."He also said that fighting terrorism "is a big priority for us and we have to concentrate on the roots of terrorism." Germany has been supporting diplomatic efforts to try and defuse the crisis. Its foreign minister has said the country's intelligence service would play a role in clearing up accusations that Qatar supports terrorist groups. Following the meetings with Merkel, the emir went to Paris for talks with French President Emmanuel Macron. He left the Elysee palace without speaking to the press. On the first stop, the emir met Thursday night in Ankara with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who's been a major supporter of his country during the three-month-old conflict. Turkey has shown solidarity with Doha by delivering food and other supplies and boosting military ties, including sending troops to a Turkish base there. Among demands the Arab nations made of Qatar in June is for all Turkish troops in the country to be expelled. Other demands include limiting diplomatic ties to Iran, shutting down the state-funded Al-Jazeera satellite news network and other media outlets and severing ties to all "terrorist organizations," including the Muslim Brotherhood and Lebanon's Hezbollah.
Qatar has rejected the demands as violations of its sovereignty. In Ankara, the two leaders "stressed the need for a resolution through diplomatic means" to the crisis, according to Erdogan's office. "We support a resolution of the crisis through a brotherly manner and through dialogue," Ibrahim Kalin, Erdogan's spokesman, told reporters. "This crisis only serves the enemies of this region." But as the emir was in Ankara calling for dialogue, a Qatari exile held a conference in London that explored the possibility of a "bloodless coup" overthrowing the government in Doha. The conference was organized by Khalid al-Hail. Analysts and experts have suggested al-Hail is supported by the Arab countries now boycotting Qatar, something he denies. "We have a crisis, the government of Qatar has to admit it," al-Hail said. "And I don't believe the current regime in Qatar is acting for the good of my people."--AP

Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published September 15-16/17
Passengers Badly Burned in London Underground Train 'Incident'
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/September 15/17/Passengers were seen "badly burned" following a possible explosion on a London Underground train, eyewitnesses said on Friday, as emergency services said they were responding to an "incident". Witnesses reported seeing passengers who had suffered facial burns and had hair coming off, with at least two women seen being treated by medics amid scenes of panic during rush hour."Explosion on Parsons Green District Line train. Fireball flew down carriage and we just jumped out open door," said Twitter user @Rrigs, who posted pictures of a white bucket smouldering on the train. The bucket looked like the type used by builders and there appeared to be cables coming out of it. "We are aware of an incident at Parsons Green tube station. Officers are in attendance," London's Metropolitan Police said on Twitter. The station was closed, as well as an entire section of the District Line where it is located and police urged people to stay away from the area. A reporter at the scene was quoted by the paper as saying that some passengers were "really badly burned" and their "hair was coming off". The incident comes after a series of terror attacks that have rocked Britain this year, killing dozens of people and injuring hundreds, putting the capital on high alert. British Foreign Secretary and former London mayor Boris Johnson appealed for calm. "I'm afraid my information is limited and it really is important not to speculate at the moment," he told Sky News. "Obviously, everybody should keep calm and go about their lives in a normal way, as normal as they possibly can," he said. - 'Covered in blood' -Passengers described chaotic scenes at the station in a leafy and normally quiet part of west London."There was panic, lots of people shouting, screaming, lots of screaming," Richard Aylmer-Hall, 52, a media technology consultant, told the Press Association. "There was a woman on the platform who said she had seen a bag, a flash and a bang, so obviously something had gone off," he said, adding that "some people got pushed over and trampled on."I saw two women being treated by ambulance crews," he said. BBC correspondent Riz Lateef, who was on her way to work, said there was "panic as people rushed from the train, hearing what appeared to be an explosion. "People were left with cuts and grazes from trying to flee the scene. There was lots of panic."One passenger, named only as Lucas, told BBC 5 Live radio: "I heard a really loud explosion"."I saw people with minor injuries, burnings to the face, arms, legs, multiple casualties," he said. Another witness, Sham, told the radio station he had seen a man with blood all over his face. "There were a lot of people limping and covered in blood," he said. Emergency services said they were called at around 8:20 am (0720 GMT). Natasha Wills, assistant director of operations at London Ambulance Service said: "Our initial priority is to assess the level and nature of injuries". She said the ambulance service had sent "multiple resources" to the station, including a hazardous area response team.

Trump Blasts 'Loser Terrorists' behind London Train Attack
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/September 15/17/President Donald Trump on Friday blasted the "loser terrorists" behind the train attack in London that injured at least 18 people. "Another attack in London by a loser terrorist," the US president tweeted. "These are sick and demented people who were in the sights of Scotland Yard. Must be proactive!" He then added: "Loser terrorists must be dealt with in a much tougher manner," without giving details of what that meant. "The internet is their main recruitment tool which we must cut off & use better!" he added, also giving no details. An explosion on a London Underground train on Friday was caused by an "improvised explosive device," British police said.

China 'Opposes' N.Korea Missile Launch, Urges Restraint
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/September 15/17/China condemned North Korea's launch of a ballistic missile over Japan Friday and appealed for restraint to avoid inflaming tensions in the region. "The Chinese side opposes the DPRK's violation of the resolution of the (UN) Security Council, and its use of ballistic missile technology for launch activities," foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a regular news briefing. "The concerned parties should exercise restraint. They should not take any further action that could aggravate the situation on the peninsula and in the region," Hua said. The launch, from near Pyongyang, came after the United Nations Security Council imposed an eighth set of measures on the isolated country following its sixth nuclear test earlier this month. It was by far its largest nuclear test to date and Pyongyang said it was a hydrogen bomb small enough to fit onto a missile. In New York, the Security Council called an emergency meeting for later Friday.The United States, meanwhile, called on China and Russia to take "direct actions" to rein in North Korea. "China supplies North Korea with most of its oil. Russia is the largest employer of North Korean forced labor," Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in a statement. "China and Russia must indicate their intolerance for these reckless missile launches by taking direct actions of their own."Asked at the briefing if Beijing would change its approach, Hua said China will "continue to comprehensively and completely implement the relevant resolutions of the Security Council."

North Korea Fires Missile over Japan
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/September 15/17/North Korea fired a ballistic missile over Japan and into the Pacific Friday, responding to new UN sanctions with what appeared to be its furthest-ever missile flight amid high tensions over its weapons programmes. The launch, from near Pyongyang, came after the United Nations Security Council imposed an eighth set of measures on the isolated country following its sixth nuclear test earlier this month. It was by far its largest to date and Pyongyang said it was a hydrogen bomb small enough to fit onto a missile.
In New York, the Security Council called an emergency meeting for later Friday. The US Pacific Command confirmed Friday's rocket was an intermediate range ballistic missile (IRBM) and said it did not pose a threat to North America or to the US Pacific territory of Guam, which Pyongyang has threatened to bracket with "enveloping fire".Seoul's defence ministry said it probably travelled around 3,700 kilometres and reached a maximum altitude of 770 kilometres.
It was "the furthest overground any of their ballistic missiles has ever travelled", Joseph Dempsey of the International Institute for Strategic Studies said on Twitter. Physicist David Wright, of the Union of Concerned Scientists, added: "North Korea demonstrated that it could reach Guam with this missile, although the payload the missile was carrying is not known" and its accuracy was in doubt. The North has raised global tensions with its rapid progress in weapons technology under leader Kim Jong-Un, who is closely associated with the programme and regularly pictured by state media overseeing launches and visiting facilities. The North's last missile launch, a Hwasong-12 IRBM just over two weeks ago, also overflew Japan's main islands and was the first to do so for years. But when Pyongyang tested two intercontinental ballistic missiles in July that appeared to bring much of the US mainland into range, it fired them on lofted trajectories that avoided passing over the archipelago nation. "The North is sending a message which is, 'we are not cowering before any sanctions and our warnings are not empty threats'," Yang Moo-Jin of the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul told AFP. "It has vowed the US would face 'pain and suffering' in retaliation for the UN sanctions."- 'Missile launch!' -Millions of Japanese were jolted awake by blaring sirens and emergency text message alerts after the missile was fired.
"Missile launch! missile launch! A missile appears to have been launched from North Korea," loudspeakers blared on Cape Erimo, on Hokkaido's southern tip. Breakfast television programmes, which usually broadcast a light-hearted diet of children's shows and gadget features, instead flashed up the warning: "Flee into a building or a basement." Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Tokyo could "never tolerate" what he called a "dangerous provocative action that threatens world peace". "If North Korea continues to walk down this path, it has no bright future," he told reporters. "We must make North Korea understand this."Tokyo had protested to Pyongyang in the "strongest words possible", chief government spokesman Yoshihide Suga added. The missile overflew the US ally for around two minutes, reports said, but there were no immediate indications of objects falling onto Japanese territory. US Defense Secretary James Mattis said Pyongyang had forced "millions of Japanese into the duck and cover", reports said, while Secretary of State Rex Tillerson urged China and Russia, Pyongyang's main defenders, to take "direct actions" to rein it in. The launch came a day after a North Korean organisation warned of a "telling blow" against Japan, accusing it of "dancing to the tune of the US" for supporting fresh UN sanctions. "The four islands of the archipelago should be sunken into the sea by the nuclear bomb of Juche," the Korea Asia-Pacific Peace Committee (KAPPC) said in a statement, referring to the North's national philosophy of "Juche" or self-reliance. - Oil shipments -In response to the launch, South Korea's military immediately carried out a ballistic missile drill of its own, the defence ministry said, adding it took place while the North's rocket was still airborne. One Hyunmu missile travelled 250 kilometres into the East Sea, Korea's name for the Sea of Japan -- a trajectory intentionally chosen to represent the distance to the launch site at Sunan, near Pyongyang's airport, it added.
But embarrassingly, another failed soon after being fired.
President Moon Jae-In told an emergency meeting of Seoul's national security council that dialogue with the North was "impossible in a situation like this", adding that the South had the power to destroy it. But Seoul will decide next week whether to provide $8 million in humanitarian aid to the North.
The Security Council sanctions imposed on Monday are the strongest so far, banning the North's textile trade and imposing restrictions on shipments of oil products. But analysts expect them to do little to dissuade Pyongyang, which says it needs nuclear weapons to defend itself against the threat of invasion by the US. US Strategic Command chief Air Force General John Hyten told reporters Thursday that on the available information he was "assuming" the sixth test was an H-bomb.

Russia, Iran, Turkey to Police Syria Idlib Safe Zone
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/September 15/17/Russia, Iran and Turkey on Friday agreed a deal to jointly police a fourth safe zone around Syria's Idlib province as part of a Moscow-led plan to ease the six-year conflict. In a joint statement after two days of talks in Kazakhstan the three powers said they agreed "to allocate" their forces to patrol the zone covering rebel-held Idlib province and parts of the neighbouring Latakia, Hama and Aleppo regions. The talks in Astana are the sixth round of negotiations Moscow has spearheaded since the start of the year as it seeks to pacify Syria after its game-changing intervention on the side of leader Bashar al-Assad. Like Russia, Iran supports the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad, while Turkey has sided with the rebels. Russia had previously deployed military police to patrol the boundaries of three zones agreed in the south of Syria, in Eastern Ghouta near Damascus, and in part of the central Homs province. Idlib, which borders Turkey, was captured in 2015 by an alliance of jihadists and rebels. The statement said the forces would be deployed according to maps agreed earlier this month in Ankara, but gave no further details of their exact positions. A joint Russia-Turkish-Iranian coordination centre will be set up "aimed at coordinating activities of deescalation forces", it said. Both the Syrian government and the armed opposition sent delegations to the talks. The joint declaration also stated that further talks would be held in the Kazakh capital at the end of October.

Two Hamas Militants Die in Gaza Tunnel Collapse
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/September 15/17/Two Hamas militants died in separate tunnel collapses in the Gaza Strip overnight, the Palestinian Islamist group, which controls the territory, said on Friday. Khalil al-Dimyati, 32, and Yusef Abu Abed, 22, were killed after two "resistance tunnels" collapsed, Hamas said, referring to tunnels used for military purposes. It did not give details of the locations or causes of the collapses, but confirmed the two men were members of Hamas's armed wing. A security source said one collapse was in Gaza City, while the other was near the city of Khan Yunis. Hamas has run Gaza for a decade and fought three wars with Israel, which maintains a crippling blockade of the territory. Hamas has built a network of tunnels inside Gaza, as well as some under the Israeli border. During the last round of conflict in 2014 attack tunnels were one of Hamas's most effective weapons. Other tunnels are used for smuggling from Egypt, although many have been destroyed by the Egyptian authorities in recent years. Several dozen Hamas members have died in tunnel collapses in the past year.

Iraq Attack Death Toll Rises to 84
Agence France Presse/Naharnet/September 15/17/Gunmen and suicide bombers killed at least 84 people in southern Iraq in the deadliest attack by the Islamic State group since it lost second city Mosul, according to a new toll released on Friday. Many of the dead in Thursday's attack near the city of Nasiriyah were Shiite Muslim pilgrims, some of them Iranian, officials said. "The death toll has risen to 84 after the discovery of 10 more bodies at the scene of the attack," said Jassem al-Khalidi, health director for Dhiqar province, which has largely been spared the violence that has plagued northern and central "Another 93 people were wounded, many of them seriously," Khalidi told AFP.The assailants struck at midday, opening fire on a restaurant before getting into a car and blowing themselves up at a nearby security checkpoint, officials said. They left a trail of destruction, with charred bodies scattered on the ground near the burnt-out wrecks of cars, buses and trucks, an AFP correspondent reported. The attack was quickly claimed by IS, which appears to be switching to insurgent attacks after suffering a string of setbacks on the battlefield. UN envoy Jan Kubis condemned the "cowardly twin attacks... which resulted in numerous civilian casualties, including many pilgrims." Shiites have been the target of repeated attack by the Sunni extremists of IS who regard them as heretics. The area targeted by Thursday's attack lies on a highway used by Shiite pilgrims from Iran and southern Iraq to travel to the shrine cities of Najaf and Karbala further north.

Possible US Citizen Fighting with Islamic State in US Hands

Associated Press/Naharnet/September 15/17/A man believed to be an American citizen who was fighting with Islamic State militants has surrendered in Syria and is now in U.S. custody, raising questions about how the Trump administration will deal with such detainee cases. Maj. Adrian Rankine-Galloway, a Pentagon spokesman, said the man surrendered to Syrian Democratic forces around Tuesday and was turned over to U.S. military force in Syria. Rankine-Galloway said the man is being legally detained as a known enemy combatant. The decision to legally detain the man as a "known enemy combatant" comes as the Trump administration has been working to craft a detention policy, which could determine whether the U.S. will resume sending detainees to the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. President Barack Obama did not send any new detainees to Guantanamo and the currently there are only about 40 there. Trump has expressed a willingness to send new detainees there, but so far has not. It's not clear if the detainee, who has not been identified, and the U.S. forces holding him are still in Syria, but the plan is to take the man into Iraq, where he would be then turned over to the U.S. State Department or Justice Department. U.S. officials said they are working out what they will do with the man, if he is confirmed as an American. If his citizenship is confirmed, he would be the second known American who was taken into custody for fighting with IS insurgents. Trump administration officials have said that there are three viable options today for taking enemy combatants off the battlefield: They can be killed; they can be apprehended and released after a few weeks, which could involve interrogation; or they can be captured and handed over to a third party. The third approach causes concern about the possibility that detainees outsourced to a third party could be treated inhumanely. Suspects accused of terror-related offenses, including Americans, also can be adjudicated in U.S. courts. A Virginia man who joined IS in Syria and Iraq for several months surrendered to Iraqi Kurdish forces in northern Iraq in March 2016 and was flown back to the U.S. to face charges. A jury in a federal court in Virginia took only four hours to convict Mohamad Khweis, 27, of Alexandria, Virginia on terrorism charges. Khweis could potentially face 20 years or more in prison when he is sentenced in October. His lawyers acknowledged that Khweis left his home in Virginia in December 2015 to join IS militants, but argued that didn't make him a terrorist; the defendant said he was only there to "check things out."Pardiss Kebriaei, a senior staff attorney for the Center for Constitutional Rights, said that even if the detainee was directly fighting in the war he must be "charged promptly or released, not held indefinitely, and treated humanely in the interim."As an American, Kebriaei said, "this person retains his constitutional rights, and he must be dealt with through the civilian criminal justice system."

Diplomats: US, Iran set for first meeting on nuclear deal at UN

AFP, United Nations Friday, 15 September 2017/US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is expected to hold a first meeting on the Iran nuclear deal with Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and other parties to the agreement next week at the United Nations, diplomats said Thursday. The meeting next Wednesday of the so-called E3+3 (Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia, the United States) and Iran comes as President Donald Trump is weighing whether to quit the historic 2015 agreement. European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini will chair the talks, held on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting, diplomats said. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is expected to touch on the fate of the nuclear deal in his UN address on Wednesday, a day after Trump will deliver his first speech to the 193-nation assembly. The US on Thursday waived nuclear-related sanctions on Iran but slapped new ones on 11 companies and individuals accused of engaging in cyber attacks against US banks. Trump is due to decide before October 15 whether Iran has breached the 2015 nuclear agreement, and critics fear he may abandon an accord they think prevents Tehran from building a nuclear bomb. On a visit to the United States in July, Zarif complained that he had yet to discuss the agreement with Tillerson and that the administration was sending “contradictory signals” about the fate of the landmark agreement. “There are no communications between myself and Secretary Tillerson,” Zarif said. “It doesn’t mean there can’t be. The possibilities for engagement... have always been open.”

Sheikh Tamim: Qatar ready to sit at negotiating table
Staff writer, Al Arabiya English Friday, 15 September 2017ظQatar is ready to sit at the negotiating table to try to end the dispute with its neighbors, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani said on Friday in Berlin. “We spoke about Qatar’s readiness to sit at the table to solve this issue,” The Qatar Emir told a joint news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin. “We disagree with some Arab countries on the definition of terrorism,” he said. “We want a solution that satisfies all sides,” he added. Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain cut diplomatic and trade links with Qatar on June 5, citing that the Gulf state is financing terrorism and questioning Doha’s ties with Iran. Merkel said she was concerned that there was still no solution to the crisis, adding she supported efforts by Kuwait and the United States to mediate an end to the dispute. “We are not siding with any party and we are in contact with Saudi Arabia and the UAE,” she said.

Muslim World League to hold conference for cultural communication in US
The Islamic World League. /Staff writer, Al Arabiya English Saturday, 16 September 2017/The Islamic World League will hold a conference on “Civilizational Communication between the United States of America and the Islamic World” on Saturday, September 16th, 2017 in New York City, USA.
Representatives of Islamic institutions from all over the world and their American counterparts along scientific, intellectual from all over the world are set to take part. The conference, which will last for two days, will focus on a number of themes naming: “The Cultural Contribution between the United States of America and the Islamic World: The Reality and the Aspirations”, “Islam’s Contribution to the Promotion of World Peace”, “Muslims in the United States of America: Integration and Citizenship”, “The intellectual trends in employing religious freedoms”, “Communication between the United States of America and the Islamic world”, “Common civilizational and humanistic traits” and “ Mutual exchange between the United States and the Islamic world” including many other topics. A distinguished group of academics and researchers from all around the world will participate in the conference. There will also be mutual dialogue sessions between a number of Muslim and American students. The Secretary General of the Muslim World League Dr. Mohammed bin Abdul Karim Al-Issa explained that the league aims at highlighting the Islamic civilization and its pioneering historical experience in opening up to other civilizations, which emphasizes the concepts of cultural exchange, and consolidate the idea of human brotherhood based on righteousness, justice, charity and companionship, as well as reviewing evidence from Islamic history about coexistence with the people of the world. Especially, since the United States of America has a distinguished record of trustful, honest and lucrative relationships with the Muslim World. He added that religious and intellectual extremism is an abnormal and isolated case that the Islamic world fought so it does not spread and cause harm to others.
Efforts to combat terrorism
The conference will emphasize as well that extremism is present in a small percentage within the Islamic world. According to the latest estimates, one in two hundred thousand people are identified as extremists. This low percentage is due to both intellectual and military campaigns and efforts. The Secretary General of the Muslim World League said that in order for extremism to regain its strength and attract new elements, it will bet on provocations of counter-extremism and "Islamophobia", indicating that extremism is a general and comprehensive concept that is not limited to Islam. He emphasized that the contemporary and ancient history is a living proof of the tolerance of Islam. The Secretary General underlined that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was strongly present in the global peace initiatives, supported them at all levels and initiated a serious and effective effort to combat extremism and terrorism intellectually and militarily which made Saudi Arabia a global platform in this sense. American President Donald Trump and a number of American politicians, intellectuals and media outlets attended the opening of the Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology in Riyadh. The Islamic Summit was an exceptional historic summit which brought together the two countries under the slogan “Together, we prevail” which took place last May. The secretary General praised the speech of the American President, who focused with detailed explanation on the distinction between moderate Muslims and extremist terrorists.

Arab federation rejects Qatar's claims about the effects of the boycott
Staff writer, Al Arabiya English Friday, 15 September 2017/Geneva - The Arab Federation for Human Rights (AFHR) refuted allegations made by Qatar's National Human Rights Commission about what it described as violations of Qatari rights and alleged violations of international law by regional countries. The Federation, which includes more than 40 human rights organizations, bodies and associations from around the Arab world, issued a report revealing evidence of human rights violations committed in Qatar. The AFHR called for a UN review of the report which was presented on Thursday by Dr Ahmed Hamli, chairman of AFHR to Vladlen Stefanov, Director of National Institutions, Civil Society Organizations and Technical Cooperation at the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. The 24-page document refutes the allegations made by the Qatari National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) regarding the Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain imposed boycott on the country. "The report is based on the study of international conventions, legislation, national regulations, and ministerial decisions taken in Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain," al-Hamli said after the report was delivered to the UN official. Al Hamli expressed his surprise at the fact that the Qatari Committee has violated the most important principles of the work of national human rights committees, which is "to play a crucial role in supporting and monitoring the effective implementation of international human rights standards on the ground in the countries to which they belong." With regard to the insistence of the Qatari committee that the boycott is an illegal blockade, the report said that the boycott is radically different from a blockade. Al-Hamli explained that the boycott "is a cut off of diplomatic and economic relations by a state or group of countries with another country, a sovereign right in the event that the latter stirs up unrest and prejudice to the security and stability of the states" .The Qatari human rights commission says the boycott has harmed Qatari citizens’ right to education, but the report warned that the right to education according to international charters is a human right for everyone in the country where they live. "Therefore, the NHRC's demand that the regional governments to provide education to Qatari citizens has no legal basis in international charters. The Qatari government has the obligation to provide education to its citizens and make it available to all," he said.
Confessions of an intelligence officer
The report also refuted Qatar's allegations of violations of freedom of opinion and expression in the three states in terms of the attitude towards Doha and its policies. Al-Hamli added that a UAE Attorney General statement on June 7, cited by the Qatari Committee, was made as a warning to social users to not misuse the sites to harm the UAE and its leaders. He added that the statements were also to warn users of complicity on social media with Qatari security services and support the approach the Qatari government chooses for extremist ideology and terrorism. The report includes confessions of a Qatari intelligence officer Hamad Ali Mohammed al-Hammadi, 33, who was arrested in the UAE in 2015. Al-Hammadi in his confessions openly acknowledged the destructive role adopted by the Qatari government over the years to target the UAE and various countries in the region. He explained how through social networking sites Qatari security services targeted the UAE and its leaders. "Is this the freedom of opinion and expression that the National Human Rights Commission of Qatar seeks to ensure its protection and maintenance?" al-Hamli said. With regard to freedom of the press and expression, the Arab Federation states in its report that "through field monitoring and fact-finding, it found that the three countries did not compel any journalists, media professionals and Qataris to resign.""On the contrary, many journalists from the three countries have voluntarily resigned from their jobs in Qatar to support their governments' efforts to root out the sources of terrorism and extremism and were provided suitable positions upon their return.”
1633 Qatari pilgrims
The report addressed allegations of restrictions on the practice of religious rites.
According to the NHRC, Saudi authorities have prevented Qatari pilgrims from performing Umrah after the boycott was established and forced pilgrims to leave Saudi Arabia. The AFHR said in its report that "these allegations have no basis and the AFHR praises the efforts of the Kingdom in facilitating services for pilgrims from different countries around the world”. According the AFHR the General Presidency of the Holy Mosques’ Affairs (GPHMA) said in a statement that it received 1,633 Qatari Umrah pilgrims despite the boycott and that what is being circulated on social media is nothing but fabrications against Saudi Arabia.
Clear bias
The report shows that the Qatari Committee "showed a clear bias towards the Qatari government against Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain and did not fulfill the tasks required by Qatar’s Law No. 17 of 2010 to organize the National Commission for Human Rights based on the Paris Principles on National Human Rights Institutions." The Paris Principles do not require national institutions to perform quasi-judicial functions or to address complaints or petitions by plaintiffs against violations of their rights, as the Committee has done. Under these principles, the role of such institutions is to seek an amicable settlement through conciliation or a binding decision on the basis of confidentiality and to inform the petitioners of their rights and remedies Available to them and facilitate access to them, the AFHR report read. The report argues that by boycotting Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain have acted within their sovereignty rights and taken preventive and protective measures to ensure their territories’ security and stability as well as the protection of regional and global security in the face of extremism and terrorism. The AFHR added that it has requested the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to investigate and re-categorize the NHRC by the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions.

At least 33 dead, 23 missing in Nigeria boat capsize: Emergency services
Fri 15 Sep 2017/NNA - At least 33 people drowned after an overloaded boat carrying traders from Niger capsized in northwest Nigeria, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) told AFP on Friday. NEMA coordinator Suleiman Mohammed Karim said the accident happened in a remote area of Kebbi state on Wednesday morning. "Thirty-three bodies were salvaged from the river while 23 are still missing... We presume they are all dead."--AFP

Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published September 15-16/17
The Thought Police Strike Again
Giulio Meotti/Gatestone Institute/September 15/17
This politically correct nonsense highlights even further the infantilization of our culture -- such as the demand for "safe spaces" and "trigger warnings". It may look like a comedy, but its effect is deadly serious.
Groupthink is a debilitating force. in any civilization. It undermines one's ability to resist the real enemies of democracy and freedom: it makes us blind to radical Islam and jihadi terrorism, and it gives the impression that our society is a joke.
Instead of being intellectually diverse, universities are trying their utmost to impose homogeneity of thoughts and ideas. So-called "right wing newspapers" are banned from certain universities. Recently, at the City University of London, the student union, devoid of irony, fascistically voted to ban some conservative tabloids in order to "oppose fascism".
Headlines every day proclaim the new religion: political correctness, cultural vandalism and censorship -- not from Islamic emirates such as Saudi Arabia, but in Western cities right here.
The Writers Union of Canada, for instance, recently apologized for a magazine editorial that defended the right of novelists to create characters from a backgrounds other than their own.
Just think of that: a writer defending the right to use one's imagination?! What an insult! At least, to "the new Stalinists" it is.
"In my opinion anyone, anywhere, should be encouraged to imagine other peoples, other cultures, other identities," Hal Niedzviecki, who was the editor of the union's magazine, Write, defended freedom in an editorial. The Union then announced that Niedzviecki had resigned.
Another journalist also fell victim to this new religion. Jonathan Kay also recently resigned as editor of the magazine The Walrus. Defending Niedzviecki's right to use his imagination cost Kay his job.
Their unspeakable crime was, it appears, "cultural appropriation" -- one of the new "groupthink" expressions that the theologian Paul Griffiths condemned as "illiberal and totalitarian". Griffiths, too, had to resign from Duke University after criticizing his colleagues for a "diversity program" that "provides foundational training in understanding historical and institutional racism."
Every revolution needs to master a new "language" to achieve uniformity of expression and thought. George Orwell, in 1984, called the replacement language "Newspeak".
Cardiff Metropolitan University, one of the largest in Britain, compiled a list of 34 words that it "encouraged" teachers and students to stop using, and replaced them with "gender-neutral" terms. "Fireman" should be replaced by "firefighter"; "mankind" should be replaced by banned "humanity", and so on. Princeton University also expunged the word "man" in its various uses, in favor of supposedly more "inclusive" expressions. City University of New York decided to ban "Mr." and "Mrs." California State University replaced commercial terms such as "businessman", "mailman", "manpower" and "salesman" to avoid that horrendous, forbidden word.
While at it, why not also purge Christianity's religious language? Some of the most famous theological universities, such as Duke and Vanderbilt, invited professors and staff to use "inclusive" language even when they are referring to God, because the masculine pronouns are "a cornerstone of patriarchy".
This politically correct nonsense highlights even further the infantilization of our culture -- such as the demand for "safe spaces" and "trigger warnings". It may look like comedy, but its effect is deadly serious. British philosopher Roger Scruton has said that a kind of "moral obesity" is crippling Western culture.
Groupthink is a debilitating force. in any civilization. It undermines one's ability to resist the real enemies of democracy and freedom: it makes us blind to radical Islam and jihadi terrorism, and it gives the impression that our society is a joke.
That is why Algerian writer Boualem Sansal, whose novel 2084 depicted a dystopian state governed by religious law, said "literature and arts are not playing a big role in this struggle against barbarism". Those writers are, instead, far too busy implementing political correctness.
Universities in Britain are now even holding workshops to "deal with right wing attitudes in the classroom". Instead of being intellectually diverse, universities are trying their utmost to impose homogeneity of thoughts and ideas. So-called "right wing newspapers" are banned from certain universities. Recently, the at the City University of London, the student union, devoid of irony, fascistically voted to ban some conservative tabloids in order to "oppose fascism".
Dozens of personalities, conservative and liberal alike, have been prevented from speaking on many U.S. campuses. This is just a short list: Milo Yiannopoulos, Janet Napolitano, George Will, Condoleezza Rice, Madeleine Albright, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Henry Kissinger, Christine Lagarde, Charles Murray and Jason Riley. First, students asked to limit freedom of expression to a specific place on campus. Then they started issuing declarations about no rights to free speech. Finally, in a crescendo of hysteria, they ended up throwing firebombs. How can we pretend that freedom of expression in the West is protected -- from fascism, Islamism, anything -- when we restrict it in our universities?
When the "politically incorrect" commentator and writer Milo Yiannopoulos was due to speak at the University of California, Berkeley on February 1, 2017, a mob of 150 people proceeded to riot, smash and set fires, causing more than $100,000 of damage. (Image source: RT video screenshot)
A few weeks ago, the 2017 Whitney Biennal in New York opened with a protest in front of a painting by the American-born artist Dana Schutz. The picture depicted Emmett Till, a boy lynched by racists in Mississippi in 1955. More than 25 black artists signed an open letter, written by the artist Hannah Black, to the Whitney's curators and staff, asking that the painting be removed from the Biennial, allegedly because "the painting uses black suffering for "profit and fun'". Ms. Black also asked that the painting be "destroyed and not entered into any market or museum".
That request not only aimed at censoring different ideas, but, like the Grand Inquisitor, of destroying the "wrong thought". The new religion -- featuring political correctness, cultural vandalism and censorship -- is dismantling the West.
**Giulio Meotti, Cultural Editor for Il Foglio, is an Italian journalist and author.
© 2017 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

Norway's Bewildering Election
Bruce Bawer/Gatestone Institute/September 15/17
Norway is the happy beneficiary of North Sea oil; yet for decades, oil profits have piled up a government fund while Norwegians have paid the highest gasoline prices in the world.
For years, Statistics Norway, the government agency charged with producing reliable data on every imaginable social and economic metric, has refused to make public certain "sensitive" information relating to Norway's Muslim population, such as the actual numbers of immigrants entering the country through "family reunification."
Is there any hope that a second Solberg government including FrP will accomplish any more in the way of curbing immigration than the first Solberg government did? At the moment, there seems little reason for hope.
Those of us who are concerned about Norway's rapid Islamization took great hope from the 2013 parliamentary election. What mattered was not that it resulted in the formation of a right-wing coalition government. What mattered was that the coalition government, for the first time ever, included the Progress Party (FrP).
From its founding in 1973, FrP was an outlier among Norway's major parties, of which there many. A quick survey: The Labor Party (Ap), the most powerful party during the postwar era, is the home of the cultural establishment; LO, Norway's equivalent of America's federation of trade unions, the AFL-CIO, is essentially a branch of Ap, and NRK, the government-owned broadcast corporation, is often described by critics as the voice of the Labor Party.
The other left-wing parties are the Socialist Left (SV) and Red parties, both of which are basically Communist, and the eco-alarmist Greens (MdG). The "bourgeois," or supposedly non-socialist, parties include the Conservatives (H), for business people; the Christian People's Party (KrF), for devout Christians; the Center Party (S), for farmers; and the Liberals (V). This division between socialist and non-socialist is something of a fiction: pretty much all of these parties support high taxes, big government, and the welfare state. Norway is the happy beneficiary of North Sea oil; yet for decades, oil profits have piled up a government fund while Norwegians have paid the highest gasoline prices in the world.
FrP, however, has always been different. It is the country's closest thing to a classical liberal or libertarian party. It believes in individual liberty, the free market, low taxes, small government; it is strongly pro-American and pro-Israel; and it has long warned against the dangers of Muslim mass immigration. For all of these reasons, it has been routinely demonized by other parties and by the media, which depicted it, with breathtaking mendacity, as a gang of bigots, fascists, and right-wing extremists.
For a long time, the other parties vowed never to allow FrP into a government coalition or to work with it in any meaningful way. But after Carl I. Hagen, the firebrand who ran the party from 1978 to 2006, handed the reins to Siv Jensen, she strove to moderate the party's image and woo other party leaders. As a result, after the 2013 election, the Conservatives invited FrP to form a coalition government, with support from the Liberals and KrF (the latter of which still refused to be a formal part of any government including FrP).
Those of us who had been wringing our hands over Muslim mass immigration cheered FrP's rise to power. We braced for dramatic change in immigration and integration policy – among other things.
But it never came. Immigration continued. Even in small, remote towns, hijabs and burkas proliferated. When it came to pandering to Muslims, Prime Minister Erna Solberg (H) may have outdone her Labor Party predecessor, Jens Stoltenberg: in a New Year's speech, she heaped praise on a Somali woman who, instead of going on the dole, had taken a job as a bus driver; this year, she celebrated Eid at an event organized by two Oslo mosques, both of which have been called totalitarian by a local expert, and one of which is listed by the United Arab Emirates as a terrorist organization.
Income tax rates remained high. So did the punitive taxes on alcohol and gasoline, so that prices for both commodities remain among the very highest anywhere.
There had been talk of privatizing NRK, which its critics regard as a shameless leftist mouthpiece; instead, the compulsory TV license fees that subsidize NRK's operations have kept rising. For years, Statistics Norway, the government agency charged with producing reliable data on every imaginable social and economic metric, refused to make public certain "sensitive" information relating to Norway's Muslim population, such as the number of immigrants entering Norway through "family reunification"; now, even though Statistics Norway was directly answerable to Jensen – who had been named Minister of Finance – that data remained private.
The only real bright spot in the whole government was FrP member Sylvi Listhaug, who in December 2015 was appointed Minister of Migration and Integration – a newly created post – and who has since made headlines (and enemies) by criticizing the wearing of hijab in elementary schools, by calling for severe cuts in wasteful foreign aid, and by warning that some Muslim leaders in Norway are "wolves in sheep's clothing."
Many have said that Trump did not win last November's presidential election – Hillary lost it. The same might be said about Norway's Parliamentary election on September 11. Voters were not that thrilled with the Conservatives and FrP (both of which went down 1-2% since 2013), but they were even less thrilled with Labor (down 3.4%), whose snooty leader, Jonas Gahr Støre, they simply did not want as their head of government. KrF, which got 13.7% of the vote in 1997 (when I moved to Norway in 1999, the Prime Minister was a KrF pastor, Kjell Magne Bondevik), continues its long slide, collecting only 4.2% of votes – even though its current leader, Knut Arild Hareide, has striven to bring Muslims into the fold, on the grounds that Christians and Muslims are "people of faith" who supposedly share "family values."
The overall tally: the four parties currently in (or aligned with) the coalition government won 88 seats in Parliament; the other parties won a total of 81. Which, barring some major shake-up, means a continuation of the current coalition government, with Erna Solberg staying on as Prime Minister. Now, eight of those 88 seats belong to KrF, so if Hareide and his people want to, they can try to make a deal with Labor and the other socialist parties, allowing Støre to form a left-leaning coalition government. But the idea of the Christian People Party collaborating with outright Communists seems even more unlikely than the prospect of them working with FrP.
Is there any hope that a second Solberg government including FrP will accomplish any more in the way of curbing immigration than the first Solberg government did? At the moment, there seems little reason for hope. It is not even clear yet whether Sylvi Listhaug – who for months has been under fire from leading Conservatives and KrF members – will keep her ministerial post. If she is out, we shall know that FrP has either sold out its principles entirely or been hopelessly checkmated.
**Bruce Bawer is the author of the new novel The Alhambra (Swamp Fox Editions). His book While Europe Slept (2006) was a New York Times bestseller and National Book Critics Circle Award finalist.
© 2017 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

A Master's Degree in Whitewashing Islam
The University of Oslo Rewards a Promising Apologist
Bruce Bawer/Gatestone Institute/September 15/17
I routinely find the website to be more reliable on the facts than the state-owned TV and radio stations or any of the big private (but, in many cases, state-supported) dailies.
The idea that there are Muslims who seek to turn Europe into an Islamic colony is, of course, no "conspiracy theory." Jihad and the caliphate are core Islamic doctrines. For over a decade, however, Norwegian academics and intellectuals have accused those commentators, who face up to the reality of these doctrines, of "peddling paranoia."
I wonder if anyone asked how a statement of opinion can violate "fundamental human rights."
In Norway, where the mainstream media systematically bury or whitewash news stories that might reflect badly on the nation's misguided immigration policies, its failed integration policies, or on Islam, a handful of small but heavily trafficked websites serve a vital function: getting out information that is being suppressed and providing a forum for opinions that are being silenced.
Perhaps the most prominent of those websites is, founded in 2003 by Hans Rustad, who still serves as editor and publisher. It is an intelligent, serious, and responsible site, whose contributors tend to know more about the above-mentioned subjects -- and to be better writers -- than the staffers at the major Oslo newspapers. I have yet to read a bigoted word by a contributor to, and I routinely find the site to be more reliable on the facts than the state-owned TV and radio stations or any of the big private (but, in many cases, state-supported) dailies.
For countless Norwegian citizens, is essential reading. For the nation's cultural elite, however, it is anathema -- a major chink in an otherwise almost solid wall of pro-Islam propaganda.
So it is no surprise to learn, via Universitetsavisa, the student newspaper at the University of Oslo, that a Religious Studies student there, Royer Solheim, has written a master's thesis on, in which he describes it as a locus of "hate rhetoric," "Islamophobia," and "conspiracy theories." Nor is it a surprise that he was graded an A.
Solheim describes the thesis itself as "a qualitative study based on a critical discourse analysis of a Norwegian Islamophobic website," His conclusion:
"The Eurabia conspiracy theory permeates the Islamophobic discourse on the website. The Eurabia theory is based on an idea that Arabs or Muslims are increasing their influence and are in the process of turning Europe into an Islamic colony."
The idea that there are Muslims who seek to turn Europe into an Islamic colony is, of course, no "conspiracy theory." Jihad and the Caliphate are core Islamic doctrines. For over a decade, however, Norwegian academics and intellectuals have accused those commentators, who face up to the reality of these doctrines, of "peddling paranoia." Their useful shorthand for this is "Eurabia theory," a term derived from the title of Bat Ye'or's 2005 book Eurabia.
Universitetsavisa reports that after last year's terrorist attacks in Nice and Berlin, reader comments on were "thoroughly marked by anti-Muslim prejudice, hate rhetoric, and aversion to Islam and Muslims." I am very familiar with the comments field at Its level of discussion is quite high. What Solheim is plainly reacting to here is the fact that the readers of have no illusion about the motives for terrorist acts such as those that took place last year in Nice and Berlin. The readers are simply not shy about acknowledging that there is a clear, straight line connecting core Islamic doctrines with repeated mass murders of infidels. If these murders sometimes lead those readers to express even outright anger at Islam, and at the reckless European governmental policies that have rendered the continent vulnerable to these atrocities, who can blame them?
In any event, the editors of are not responsible for statements made by their readers -- although, as even Solheim admits, they do make an effort to "moderate the debate and do not tolerate racism." The fact is that the opportunity Rustad's website affords citizens to sound off on matters vital to their own (and their children's) future is becoming increasingly valuable. Why? Because more and more Norwegian news media are closing down comments fields on their websites when the topic is Islam -- precisely because they do not want to host honest, vigorous debates about this most forbidden of issues. There is a good reason why has more than 200,000 unique readers per month -- which, as Solheim acknowledges, makes it bigger in this regard than the country's newspaper of record, Aftenposten.
"Within a discourse there are certain norms as to what is acceptable to say," scolds Solheim. The debates on, he pronounces with dismay, are heavy on "skepticism toward authority." Some of the contents, he insists, violate "fundamental human rights." Well, isn't he a good little policeman-in-training. Unfortunately, knifings, car-rammings, and abusing women, children and homosexuals would also seem to violate "fundamental human rights." The Universitetsavisa article briefly recounts Solheim's defense of his thesis, at which he answered questions. I wonder if anyone asked him how a statement of opinion can violate "fundamental human rights."
I also wonder if anyone asked him any questions about basic Islamic theology. His thesis adviser, Asbjørn Dyrendal, is apparently an expert in Christianity, Satanism, Wicca, and in -- surprise! -- "conspiracy theories." In his work, Dyrendal has sounded the alarm about the supposed dangers of evangelical Christianity in America -- all the while dismissing as "conspiracy theorists" those who dare to sound the alarm about the dangers of Islam. In other words, he is a prototypical member of the European academic establishment.
Fortunately, Universitetsavisa, like, has a comments field for readers. One of the readers of the article about Solheim wondered what he thinks of born-and-bred Muslims who, writing for sites like, agree with pretty much everything that Rustad and others say there about the "religion of peace." Another asked how Solheim distinguishes "between Islamophobia and entirely legitimate Islam criticism" and whether his "research" had included checking the supposedly "hateful" claims made by's contributors against the facts about Islam. A third wondered if Solheim was familiar with the frequent references, in the works of the popular Islamic theologian Yusuf al-Qaradawi, to a future and fondly hoped-for Islamic conquest of Europe. As yet another reader of Universitetsavisa put it: "It stops being a conspiracy theory when you have evidence that it's happening."
**Bruce Bawer is the author of the new novel The Alhambra (Swamp Fox Editions). His book While Europe Slept (2006) was a New York Times bestseller and National Book Critics Circle Award finalist.
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Iran, US align against Iraqi Kurdistan referendum
Fazel Hawramy/Al Monitor/September 14, 2017
Iran and the United States jointly but separately are putting the screws on Massoud Barzani to halt his drive for Iraqi Kurdistan to hold its upcoming independence referendum.
Mlitary commanders and diplomats from both Iran and the United States are swarming Iraqi Kurdistan in a last-ditch attempt to convince the Kurds, an important ally in the war against the Islamic State (IS), to either postpone the planned Sept. 25 referendum for independence or cancel it all together.
Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, the commander of Iran’s powerful Quds Force, and Brett McGurk, the US special anti-IS envoy accompanied by US Ambassador Douglas Silliman, were shuttling this week between Baghdad, Erbil and Sulaimaniyah to convince all sides to come to an agreement.
"Both the Iranians and the Americans were in agreement about the referendum and reiterated that it should not take place," a source briefed about the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan’s (PUK) separate meetings with American and Iranian officials on Sept. 11 told Al-Monitor.
Both Iran and the United States also separately conveyed similar messages to Gorran movement officials. The latter believe that the referendum should be postponed until regional and international support is secured. "We will not support you, and you will be on your own," a Gorran official told Al-Monitor when recounting a meeting with the American ambassador. Indeed, “The United States is 100% opposed to the referendum on September 25,” Weshyar Omar, who was part of the Gorran delegation meeting with the Americans on Sept. 13, quoted McGurk as saying.
"Until now, we have held back the [Hashid Shaabi, or Popular Mobilization Units (PMU)] from attacking, but I will not bother to do that anymore," Soleimani warned the senior PUK officials, the source briefed on the meeting told Al-Monitor. "Just look at Mandali and what happened there. That is the beginning," he cautioned, referring to the Sept. 11 incident in which a group of over a hundred Iranian-backed Iraqi militia fighters arrived in the disputed subdistrict of Mandali in Diyala province, 100 kilometers (62 miles) northeast of Baghdad, and forced the Kurdish head of the town’s council out of his job and announced that the town will not be included in the Kurdistan referendum. The incident came three days after Hadi Ameri, the head of the Badr Brigade — an important component of the PMU — warned that Iraq will stay united and if the Kurdistan referendum went ahead it could create a civil war in the country. In a direct challenge to the Kurds, on Sept. 12 and 13 respectively, Diyala and Salahuddin provincial councils canceled the plans to hold the referendum in disputed areas within their provincial boundaries.
Meanwhile, the de facto president of the Kurdistan region and the man behind the referendum push, Massoud Barzani, said on Sept. 13 in a speech in the city of Akre near Erbil that no alternatives have been presented for the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to reconsider its decision to hold the referendum later this month. “We want to extend the hand of brotherhood to all sides, but if any side wants to fight us, they can try it,” Barzani warned while standing underneath a sign that read “Yes to the State of Kurdistan, 25/9/2017.”
While both Iran and the United States object to the referendum, their reasoning appears to be different. Washington is worried that the plebiscite will weaken the position of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi ahead of the April 2018 general elections. The logic of the United States is that any loss for Abadi will be a gain for Iran and its supporters — including the PMU. Tehran, on the other hand, is worried that the referendum is an American and Israeli ploy to create further instability in the region and endanger Iran’s security by influencing its 8-million strong Kurdish population.
The logic of the United States is that any loss for Abadi will be a gain for Iran and its supporters.
Given how much Barzani and his Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) have invested in the referendum, it appears that the only option available to the United States and Iran to convince the Kurdish president to postpone the plebiscite while saving face is through an internal Kurdish agreement. McGurk hinted at this during his meeting with the Gorran officials, saying that the referendum should be postponed through the KRG parliament. He coated his warning, according to Weshyar Omar, who attended the meeting, by reassuring the Kurds that with help from France and Britain, Washington would give guarantees to the Kurds to resolve all the outstanding issues with Baghdad if they were to postpone the referendum. McGurk’s pressure bore fruit when he managed to convince the PUK and the KDP to postpone the first session of the Kurdish parliament from Sept. 14 to the following day to allow Gorran sufficient time to discuss the issue at its General Council meeting, which took place on the evening of Sept. 13, according to a senior Gorran official who attended the gathering.
McGurk is said to be pushing for an agreement among the Kurdish parties, who in turn will officially request through the Kurdish parliament that Barzani postpone the vote to another time after Iraqi's elections in April 2018. Barzani will then concede to postponing the plebiscite on the basis that it is the wish of the representatives of the Kurdish people. Tehran and Washington will get their way, and Barzani will be able to back down while saving face.
Indeed, on Sept. 14 the website of the Kurdish presidency announced that the United States, the UK and the United Nations had presented an alternative to holding the Sept. 25 plebiscite on the same day to Barzani, and that Barzani had responded that he will consult with the political leadership in Kurdistan and respond shortly.
If Gorran does not reach an agreement with other Kurdish parties, the PUK, KDP and their partners could technically resume the work of the Kurdish parliament as they hold the majority of seats — 81 out of 111 — and still hold the referendum. This option will be catastrophic for the Kurdistan region, according to another Gorran official who attended the meeting with McGurk.
It is not clear what the Kurds will come to agree on in the days leading up to Sept. 25. But if history is anything to go by, the stubbornness of the Kurdish leadership could create yet another headache for the Kurdish people — and Washington.
Indeed, the words of a prominent American diplomat made persona non grata by Saddam Hussein’s regime over his persistent contacts with the Kurds may prove to be particularly relevant these days. “The Kurds themselves are so incredibly badly split … [that] if you were to hand them their independence tomorrow, they would be unable to sustain it. This virtually happened, as you know, after the Gulf War [1991] when we took over Iraqi Kurdistan and essentially said to the Iraqi Kurds, ‘Here you are. Please set up the state.’ Of course, we didn't say those words and we would never admit to such a thing, but that's effectively what happened," lamented Haywood Rankin in a 1998 interview. "The individual Kurdish leaders have all been incapable of compromise. That has been the story for years and years and years," Rankin concluded.
**Fazel Hawramy is an independent journalist currently based in Iraqi Kurdistan. Twitter: @FazelHawramy

Congress fuels Christian rivalries with bid to arm Iraqi militias
Bryant Harris/Al Monitor/September 14/17
A House effort to arm Iraqi Christian militias risks making an already tense standoff in the Ninevah Plains even worse.
A little-noticed provision to arm Iraqi Christians in the House version of a must-pass defense bill is inadvertently fueling unrest between rival militias on the Ninevah Plains, an Iraqi melting pot.
The nonbinding provision, inserted by Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., a conservative Christian member of the House Armed Services Committee, notes “the important role of the Iraqi Christian militias within the military campaign against [the Islamic State (IS)] in Iraq, and the specific threat to the Christian population.” It calls on the United States to “provide arms, training, and appropriate equipment to vetted elements of the Nineveh Plain Council,” a governing council being proposed by Assyrian factions but with no guarantee of being formed.
Ever since IS swept across Iraq and began its genocidal campaign, forcing thousands of Assyrian Christians to flee the Ninevah Plains in 2014, Washington has routed military support to Iraqi sub-state militias through the central government in Baghdad. While IS has now largely been ousted from the Ninevah Plains, the group still poses a threat to surrounding areas.
Franks told Al-Monitor that he had inserted the language with the expectation that the Department of Defense would use it to bypass Baghdad and provide direct military assistance to favored Christian militias.
“It’s time for the Christians to have direct support there because there are certain things taking place where some of the opponents of the Christians are buying their houses and buying land where, even if they were able to return, they’d be essentially displaced from their homes,” Franks told Al-Monitor. “And I think that if Christians have some direct support, they would be able to protect themselves and defend their homes and their lands.”
Assyrian Christians, however, comprise a diverse mosaic of minority groups on the Ninevah Plains, which lie northeast of Mosul, next to Iraqi Kurdistan. Kurdish peshmerga have occupied part of the Ninevah Plains since ousting IS in conjunction with local militias and Iraqi security forces.
“No legislation in the US has ever helped us, unfortunately ... I think some of it must have been done with good intentions, but it has never resulted in any benefit on the ground.”
The presence of Kurdish forces on the Ninevah Plains has exacerbated existing political tensions among Assyrian Christian groups that go back years before IS exerted control over the area. The Ninevah Plain Forces, a coalition of Christian militias fighting alongside the peshmerga, support the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), while the rival Ninevah Plain Protection Units (NPU) support making the Ninevah Plains a separate administrative unit under the auspices of the Iraqi central government.
“The problem with the militias on the Ninevah Plains is that in many cases they deny who they’re backed by, and they have no formal ties to the Kurdistan region typically,” Michael Knights, a Lafer fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told Al-Monitor. “They’re in theory a free-standing militia, but money flows to them, weapons flow to them from the Kurdistan region.”
Anti-KRG Assyrian groups, on the other hand, fall under the umbrella of the state-sponsored Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), a wide-ranging group of predominantly Shiite militias that formed following the Iraqi army’s evaporation as IS swept across the country in 2014.
"Some of these [PMU], they're Christian militias in theory, but actually they've got a whole bunch of Iranian-backed Shiite terrorists working alongside them,” said Knights.
The NPU insists it does not receive support from Iran and that it joined the PMU so its fighters would receive salaries from the Iraqi government.
“There is absolutely no connection to Iran,” Yacoob Yaco, NPU chairman, told Al-Monitor. “If there were any of these concerns or issues, the US military would not have trained us and conducted missions in coordination with us.”
The NPU and its political branch, the Assyrian Democratic Movement (ADM), strongly object to Franks’ provision on the grounds that it would only provide arms to rival Christian militias allied with the Kurds.
At issue is Franks’ reference to providing arms to “vetted elements of the Nineveh Plain Council.” The NPU believes that the reference to the Nineveh Plain Council emerged from a policy document that pro-Kurdish Assyrian factions agreed to at a June conference in Brussels convened by European Parliament member Lars Adaktusson. The ADM has rejected the document on the grounds that it provides undue influence to the KRG at the expense of the central Iraqi government.
“If the goal is to support local control for Assyrians and other ethnoreligious minorities in the Ninevah Plain, then this council, as currently proposed at the Brussels conference, should be rejected,” said Elmer Abbo, president of the Ninevah Plain Defense Fund, a US-based nonprofit that fundraises for military support to the NPU. “It's political annexation of the Ninevah Plain that, over time, would create the conditions for formal KRG annexation.”
All of this is taking place against the backdrop of a Sept. 25 referendum on Iraqi Kurdish independence. While the KRG has faced considerable criticism for including Iraq’s disputed oil-rich Kirkuk province in the referendum, it remains unclear whether the KRG will hold the vote in the areas of the Ninevah Plains under its control. The KRG delegation in Washington did not respond to an Al-Monitor inquiry on the matter.
“Many of them ... have an Iraqi nationalist outlook and they are used to dealing with Baghdad rather than dealing with the Kurdistan region.”
Anti-KRG Assyrians have pointed to the KRG’s replacement of the mayors of two Assyrian-majority towns, Alqosh and Tel Keppe, with pro-KRG mayors as further evidence of Kurdish interference in the Ninevah Plains. While thousands of Assyrian Christians have fled to Iraqi Kurdistan, many believe that the best course for the Ninevah Plains is to seek greater autonomy under Baghdad rather than become part of the KRG.
“They, as a minority in Iraq, were relatively well treated” under former President Saddam Hussein, said Knights. “So many of them sort of have an Iraqi nationalist outlook, and they are used to dealing with Baghdad rather than dealing with the Kurdistan region historically.”
Knights also noted, “Within Kurdistan, there’s been a major economic crisis for a number of years, and people do not get paid regularly, whereas [Baghdad has] continued to pay their salaries right away through the current economic crisis.”
The House has already passed the defense bill with Franks’ language on Iraqi Christians, but the provision is not included in the Senate’s version of the bill, which is expected to come to a floor vote on Monday. Both chambers will have to agree on a final version, and Abbo believes the language is unlikely to survive reconciliation between the two versions. “US policy has consistently stayed clear of actively engaging to support the survival of ethnoreligious minorities in Iraq,” he explained.
Indeed, Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb., added an amendment to last year’s defense bill that would have empowered “local security forces in Iraq — including ethnic and religious minority groups — to deter, hold, or roll back [IS].” That provision, however, did not make it into the final version of the bill.
The NPU's Yaco also decried the lack of direct US support.
“No legislation in the US has ever helped us, unfortunately,” Yaco told Al-Monitor. “I think some of it must have been done with good intentions, but it has never resulted in any benefit on the ground.”
He added, “I am inviting every member of the US Congress to come to the Ninevah Plain … in order to truly understand what is happening and then perhaps they will be able to provide helpful legislation that has an impact, but only if they hear it from us directly and not through foreign entities.”
Franks, who has also advocated for directly arming the peshmerga, acknowledged the tension between Assyrian factions but argued that direct military support would be enough to get anti-KRG Christians on board.
“I understand that dynamic, and the Christian groups, if they know that they can get direct support, I think, will certainly embrace that,” said Franks. “The Kurds understand that I’m 1,000% supportive of them, and I’m also supportive of the Christians.”
In the past, Franks said, Baghdad has held up military assistance to non-state groups, including the peshmerga, even as they fought for their lives against the Islamic State.
“I’m convinced if we try to run it through the conventional channels that much of it won’t ever get there … and that the end result will be that a number of Christians will die and an even greater number would be dispersed,” he said.
Knights acknowledged the issue, but argued that US pressure on Baghdad ensures that military aid is eventually routed to where it is intended to go.
On the authorities in Baghdad, Knights said, “They might not like that idea, but they say, ‘Sure, if it has to happen, it has to happen.’”
Irrespective of broader disputes between the KRG and Baghdad, Knights also questioned the general wisdom and efficacy of circumventing Iraq’s central government when providing military assistance to non-state forces.
“It only really works if you loop Baghdad into it,” said Knights. “If you don’t, you really upset the people in Baghdad and that’s the very last thing we need to do ahead of Iraqi elections in 2018, when we’re hoping that the pro-US guy wins.”
**Bryant Harris is Al-Monitor's congressional correspondent. He was previously the White House assistant correspondent for Yomiuri Shimbun, Japan's largest newspaper. He has also written for Foreign Policy, Al Jazeera English and IPS News. Prior to his stint in DC, he spent two years as a US Peace Corps volunteer in Morocco. On Twitter: @brykharris_ALM, Email:

Intelligence cell in Saudi Arabia
Salman al-Dosary/Al Arabiya/September 15/17
The year 2010 was a turning point in Saudi Arabia. That year saw the spark of the so-called “Arab Spring”, the riots in Awamiya, which later turned into terrorist acts before they too faded and came to end, and Saudis began using the most popular social networking site in the Kingdom, Twitter.
From 2010 onward, internal and external parties realized the importance of the site and attempted in any way possible to control the Saudi Twitter, which has become a remarkable phenomenon in the world as social media is considered a powerful mean through which one can, negatively or positively, influence tweeters.Thus, it wasn’t surprising to discover later that this account, which is followed by hundreds of thousands of users, did not operate from Saudi Arabia, but from Turkey, or those who participate in local discussions and tweet through organized cells located outside the Kingdom. It appeared that the greatest hashtags related to domestic issues originated from abroad.
Within this context, Saudi Arabia suddenly found itself at a different stage compared to those preceding it where its people found an outlet where they can express their views freely and without any censorship. The new platform gave rise to new celebrities and also revived old ones, who date back from the cassette tape era. These figures have a long history of contributing to the suspicious activities and through this platform, they found the means to, unfortunately, create incitement on the street, hit national cohesion and try to create chaos in any way under several labels. Saudi government gave them many chances, hoping that they would desist from trying to impose their agendas and sense the danger
The ‘reform’ agenda
There is no doubt that the best description that these people hid behind to market their agendas is “reform.” Of course, no one asks since when reform has been achieved through inciting a revolution, for example, or creating a violent public opinion on all issues. Or, how can reform be achieved through challenging and doubting the credibility of all state institutions? On Monday, an official source said that Saudi Arabia’s Presidency of the State Security was able to uncover and monitor the intelligence activities of a group of people who worked for external parties against the security of the Kingdom and its interests. “The cell worked to disturb the interests, methodology, capabilities and social safety of the Kingdom in order to stir up sedition and destabilize national unity.”
In my opinion, it is significant that the majority of the names of the members of the intelligence cell did not surprise any of the observers. The only real surprise was the delay in holding them accountable and bringing them to trial because their impact, harm and incitement was known to all.
Of course, no country that accepts that someone use his fame, status or means of communication, such as Twitter, to incite civil peace. The Saudi government gave them many chances, hoping that they would desist from trying to impose their agendas and sense the danger of their scheming.
However, they did not get the message and continued to pursue their agendas and contacts with sides working on fragmenting Saudi society from within. They continued to strike national unity for long years, in means that appear to be gentle, but were extremely volatile in reality.
Under trial
Notably, the Saudi security services have evidence and proof that condemn the members of the intelligence cell when they are brought to trial. The issue, as some people argue, is not because of their peaceful views, as they claim, since there are thousands of Saudis who have their own views that are inconsistent with the general policy of the Kingdom, yet no one has come near them for a simple reason: they did not promote their views in a dangerous and chaotic way, and they did not use these views to harm their country and its citizens.
I recall that I once asked a senior Saudi security official about the measures taken in case someone incited against the country or if someone has stances that are contrary to the state’s. He answered: “We do not care what people say or what they think. We do not hold people accountable for their opinions and stances as long as they do not turn into harmful acts that affect the people’s security.”
In all the countries there are destabilizing forces that deal with foreign countries for several purposes. This is the nature of good and evil in humans. Saudi Arabia also has one of these destabilizing forces and states are responsible before their people to prevent these forces from causing instability regardless of their excuses, whether they are religious or social, to carry out their heinous acts.

Abdel Malek threatens us with ‘fresh’ missiles
Mashari Althaydi/Al Arabiya/September 15/17
Every day passes on the ‘Decisive Storm’ operation launching proves that it was the most important foreign military political decision taken by Saudi Arabia and its most influential Gulf partner, the UAE. Some had doubts, others attacked the Arab-Islamic alliance for confronting the Houthi militias and their tottering alley Saleh. They strangely ignore that the Houthi is an ‘organic’ part of the Iranian Khomeini Revolutionary Guards. Al-Houthi overlooking the Jazan, Najran and South Dhahran, and its missiles, which are imported from Iran’s factories, hit Khamis Mushayt, Abha, Sabiya, Taif an area close to Mecca! Today, while the Iran’s claw is in Yemen, Abdel Malek al-Houthi, forcibly subdue the sick man Ali Abdullah Saleh, and arrogantly threatens the UAE and Saudi Arabia in an unprecedented escalating manner.
We do not know why the Houthi is that much confident – same as the Qatari rulers, but every disease has its medicine that cures it – except foolishness which sickens he who tries to cure it. Abdel Malek al-Houthi with a Khomeini trance, said in his speech which was broadcast in Al-Maseera Channel: “UAE came in the range of our missiles”, announcing that they made a “successful” missile experiment which he “claimed” would reach Abu Dhabi.  Blatant imitation  In a blatant imitation of his Lebanese role model - Hassan Nasrallah - Abdel Malek said: “The missile force was able to accomplish the post-Riyadh phase.” Do you remember Nasrallah’s speech about Haifa and post-Haifa?!For anyone who questions the legitimacy of the objectives of the Arab alliance, now AbdelMalek al-Houthi gives the crystal clear reason that the mission must be accomplished no matter how much the costs are. “The time is in our favor, therefore, we are not in a hurry,” said Mohammed bin Salman in his television interview, past May. “If they want to secure their oil ships, then they should not invade Hodeidah,” Abdel-Malek said with megalomania, addressing Riyadh. It might be considered that the Houthi is making vain threats, to cover the dissent with the Congress Party and Saleh, or to bury the anger among the Yemeni people after three years of the coup. But it is necessary to seriously consider this speech, uproot the Khomeini claw from Yemen, and killing, or the anticipated al-Imam al-Zaidi comes back to Maran caves. What the son of Saada said, would turn out to be disaster for him and for the Khomeini project in Yemen. Yes, there are obstacles, of which the campaigns of the international organizations which was invaded by al-Houthi and the Khomeinists, but this is a matter of destiny, and the “brother” has reached the very point of deterioration.
For anyone who questions the legitimacy of the objectives of the Arab alliance, now Abdel-Malek al-Houthi gives the crystal clear reason that the mission must be accomplished no matter how much the costs are. “The time is in our favor, therefore, we are not in a hurry,” said Mohammed bin Salman in his television interview, past May.
It is said that, “If ants had wings…. Then its end is close”.

Is al-Qaeda looking to come back with Hamza bin Laden at helm?
Huda al-Husseini/Al Arabiya/September 15/17
S militia, its alleged state on the 16th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks, Hamza bin Laden emerges as the qualified person to reunite the extremist movements. He was one of the favorite sons for Osama bin Laden, the founder of al Qaeda, and the most supportive for the terrorist acts among his brothers. According to a report published by the Counter Terrorism Center, Hamza is in his late 20s.. He was seven when Omar al-Bashir's regime in Sudan was subjected to Arab and international pressure and al-Qaeda was expelled from its territory, so Osama and his followers went to Afghanistan, where they were welcomed and provided with a safe shelter.
Soon it was apparent that Hamza was his father’s favorite son. He appeared in publicity videos alongside with his father, and hwas trained with al-Qaeda fighters and gave strong speeches. But his time with his father was nearing an end. After the September 11 attacks, and after the killing of the Afghani leader Ahmed Shah Masood, Bin Laden ordered his wives and youngest sons to leave Kandahar, since this headquarter had previously been attacked, and it would be attacked again after this operation. He asked them to go to Jalalabad, 350 kilometers north-east of Afghanistan.
Bidding goodbye
In November 2001, on a hill south of Jalalabad, bin Laden bid goodbye to three of his young children, gave each of them a rosary and ordered them to preserve their faith. Then he went to the Tora Bora caves.
Hamza was one of the three children, and disappeared till he reappeared two years ago as the most likely to reunite the cracked movement, to lead al-Qaeda to a future which “will be more violent than the past,” according to the report.
As he headed for Tora Bora, Bin Laden ordered his family to travel eastward inside Pakistan's borders, as al-Qaeda were safe there. Activists such as Khalid al-Sheikh Mohammed (now held at Guantanamo), have lived long and freely in Karachi, and where Daniel Pearl, a Wall Street Journal reporter, was kidnapped and slaughtered.
But the September 11 attacks changed everthing. General Pervez Musharraf, the prime minister then, became an enthusiastic supporter of US efforts against al-Qaeda and Taliban.
Now, as ISIS continues to collapse, many of its followers will be looking for new paths to continue fighting. It should be noted that Hamza, in all his recent messages, as opposed to the other al-Qaeda leaders, did not criticize ISIS at all, and ISIS on its part has not criticized him as well.
Having a narrow range of risky choices, al-Qaeda, including the Bin Laden family, decided to leave Pakistan and seek refuge in Iran. Saif al-Adl, the former Egyptian soldier and the central figure in al-Qaeda was there, and out of fear that the organization would slip out of their fingers, the Iranian authorities began to set up a trap to force all the organization’s activists and their families to get inside Iran.
According to the Counter Terrorism Center report, Hamza and his mother have been held in a series of military facilities in the Tehran for years. In captivity, Hamza married the daughter of one of his teachers, the former military commander of al-Qaeda, Abu Muhammad al-Masri, and his wife gave birth to a son, and was named Osama, and a daughter, named Kaiyria.
But Hamza was still looking forward to follow his father’s path. In 2010, in return for the release of an Iranian diplomat from Pakistani tribes, Hamza, his family, his mother and his two brothers, Osman and Mohammad, were released and they left Iran and headed for Waziristan, where al-Qaeda groups live protected by armed Pakistani groups.
When the father knew that Hamza was released, he tried to send him to Qatar, on the grounds that it would be difficult for the US to request from Qatar to hand him over, as a 14year-old boy, but Mahmoud or Atiya Abdel Rahman, Bin Laden’s chief of staff, opposed the idea on the grounds that Qatar is a US ally and might hand over Hamza to the Americans.
Journey to Abbottabad
Osama was in Abbottabad (the place where he was killed). He ordered his sons Osman, Muhammad and Khaled to go to Peshawar and ordered Hamza to come to Abbottabad.
Mahmoud, the chief of staff, set the plan. In April 2011, Hamza and his family travelled south through Baluchistan. He has to endure a circular journey because it was safer than going to Abbottabad directly through the Khyber Pass.
In Baluchistan, Hamza had to meet Azmari, the Al-Qaeda confidante who would arrange the journey through Karachi, then by air or train to Peshawar, where Hamza would meet one of al-Qaeda men who will secure his arrival to Abbottabad. The plan was under way, but could not be executed as within weeks Osama bin Laden was killed.
On the global terror list
Hamza disappeared until August 2015, when Ayman al-Zawahri, (who was supposed to be the leader of the militia), sent a letter presenting ‘A Lion’ from the lion’s den - hinting about the name ‘Osama’ which means ‘Lion’.
Hamza then called on militants to take the battle from Kabul, Baghdad and Gaza to Washington, London, Paris and Tel Aviv.
Then other messages appeared in May, July and August 2016. Earlier, in January 2016, the US State Department had added Hamza on the list of global terrorists, to which he responded through two other letters in May 2016.
The report says, surprisingly Hamza asked his followers not to travel to the fields of war within the Islamic world but rather, wherever they are they should attack targets in the West and Russia: “I know that the imposing punishment on the Jews and the Crusaders has the most harmful and fierce impact on the enemies”.
In his May 2012 letter, he said: “Jerusalem is the bride and our blood is her dowry”. But this should not be taken as evidence that al-Qaeda was about to attack Israel. It should be noted that Osama bin Laden was skeptical about this issue, and admitted to his assistants that al-Qaeda’s rhetoric about Palestine was “nothing more than a fuss aimed at encouraging public support in the Arab world.”
Now, as ISIS continues to collapse, many of its followers will be looking for new paths to continue fighting. It should be noted that Hamza, in all his recent messages, as opposed to the other al-Qaeda leaders, did not criticize ISIS at all, and ISIS on its part has not criticized him as well.
There are many supporters of ISIS condemning the “al-Qaeda of al-Zawahiri,” but are impressed with Osama bin Laden, the al-Qaeda founder, which, according to the report, is the best proof that Hamza could be reuniting figure.
What helps Hamza is that al-Zawahri does not have charisma and is not liked by many militants, and ISIS is on top of them.
Call for more attacks
While al-Zawahri’s messages were mostly limited to verbal threats to the United States, if Hamza took over, the verbal threats might change, if we admitted that his messages were calling for more attacks inside the US territory.
Would Hamza’s future be the same as the report described and expected for him?
Would other militant followers pledge for him?
Would the country he resides in allow him to go beyond addressing messages?
Would the countries fighting terrorism, accept Hamza’s movement?
Would history repeats itself, and the son will repeat what the father did and thus meet the same end?
The report considers that Hamza is emerging, which should make the decision- makers in the West a well as in the Islamic world worried.